Cuenca: Laundry, hats, and a walk in the park

We’re spending a lot of time walking around the city of Cuenca. Yesterday was a pretty typical day, and an especially enjoyable one.

Our first stop was to drop off laundry at the img_20161011_181115laundry service recommended by our AirBnB host, Travis (Lavanderia Los Angeles, yellow building at the corner of Gaspar Sangurima and Estéves de Toral). The proprietor asked us if 6:30 the same evening would be OK, and then he wrote up a claim slip for 6 pounds of laundry for $1.80. We’ve seen AirBnB offerings of $4 and $5 a load when there wasn’t in-suite laundry available (which we usually try to book), so $1.80 for someone else to wash, dry, and fold sounded like a pretty good deal to us. (Since we could see a washing machine, we were pretty sure it would be cleaned better than our laundry was in Kenya by the Masi who were protecting our safari group. Pretty sure it was washed in the muddy river, and everything came back grey.)

Next stop was El Museo del Sombrero, the Panama hat museum and factory. Yes, we are still in Ecuador, but this country claims to be the birthplace of the Panama hat. After trying several on, I think Ken really wants a hat, so we will likely be going back another day. Since he’s already burned his ears and neck wearing a baseball cap, it’s probably not a bad idea.

Not far from el museo is El Tunel (Honorato Vasquez 6-80 and Luis Cordero), a restaurant recommended by Intentional Travelers in their thorough and very helpful eating-in-Cuenca post. We concur with their recommendation. This restaurant is in our top two so far for almuerzos. Nice ambience, and really good food; still $2.50 for juice, soup, main, and a dessert (real dessert, too, not a hard candy or single soggy strawberry in syrup). The manager kept careful watch as we ate our soup so he would know exactly when to place an order with the kitchen for our segundos, or main courses. They were delivered fresh and hot the moment our soup was finished.

After our very satisfying lunch, we headed to a park we had wanted to visit, Parque el Paraiso, about 3 kilometres farther along the river.

On the way, we took in the colors, both natural and human-made.

Finally, we arrived at the park. ¡Que bonita! Parque el Paraiso is at the confluence of two rivers in the city, Rio Tomebamba and Rio Yanuncay. It takes full advantage with a raised boardwalk at the far end of the park to allow for safe viewing of the rushing waters. In other parts of the park are serene lakes, fitness equipment, and a road system set up to teach 4- to 8-year-olds how to deal with street signs and bike paths as they push themselves around the track on peddle cars (only open on weekends so no cute kid pics today).

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After tromping through the park for an hour or so, and with the rains threatening, we grabbed a cab for the return trip: $1.80.

The day before we had picked up a 750ml (26 oz) bottle of rum for about $8, and a sleeve of frozen coconut pulp for $1.70 from the SuperMaxi. Along with an enormous, fresh pineapple from the produce shop around the corner for $2 we had all the fixings for some fab piña coladas.

Oh, and the laundry was ready at 6:30, and it came back clean!

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